How was everybody’s week and weekend with graduation festivities? Apparently we all survived. And as most know, the graduation parties are not finished yet. It appears it takes just as long to conclude all the parties as it does to complete the NBA playoffs.
Keeping up with them? I am, now that my Boston Celtics have returned. Yup, I am a Celtic fan. Since the days of Russell, Cowens, Havlicek, Cousy, Bird and one of my all-time favorites, Jo Jo White.
Memo to NBA officials: You run through the NFL and MLB seasons. Why? Does the season ever end?
To tell the truth, I have not been an NBA fan for some time. True, I am a Boston fan and would love to see them return to the promised land, especially if it was to mean beating the Lakers, but I feel the NBA has lost its glitter and pizzazz since that dude Jordan retired. Who is carrying the NBA these days? Kobe? Until he wins a ring, give me a break. Even my new man Garnett, nope! The one person who comes close is Tim Duncan. Why? How many rings does he have? He plays with class and never whines, nor do you see his name in the papers or tabloids. He just plays the game and is a great role model for the young hoopsters.
Kobe loves — well — Kobe. He has yet to prove he can win without his daddy Shaq. Maybe this will be the year and I will eat my words. No problem. I can live with that. Just like Pippen needed Michael, Kobe needed Shaq.
The NBA was once a league of teams winning as teams with good players. Think back when the teams like the 76ers enjoyed success with Maurice Cheeks and Dr. J. Or the Lakers of the ‘80s. Sure, they had Magic and Jabbar, but they also had a great cast of Cooper and Worthy. The Celtics may have had Bird and McHale; they also had Jo Jo White or the team with Cowens and Russell. Great TEAMS with great players generally equals success.
Today the NBA is about individual players and, oh yes, the almighty dollar. Fine, all good; everybody including myself would love to make a gazillion dollars and pound myself on the chest when I score a lay-up, but to me the NBA is lost in translation.
Another thing about the NBA that gnaws at me are the prices to see the games live. According to razorgator.com, tickets for the Lakers-Spurs series start at $46 and run up to $17,612 per game for courtside or Nicholson seats. Wow! What that means to me is that the average Joe cannot go to the game or has to save and save to attend the game. The prices are taking the game away from the fans. The biggest buyers of NBA merchandise are the young fans. Yet, these young fans, if they want to attend a game, will sit in the nosebleed section where you need a telescope to see the players, or just watch it in the friendly confines or the casa.
The NBA states it is a “fan’s game.” Sure it is, for the fans who can afford to attend or purchase the merchandise.
Time for me to get off my high horse, as Jack Nicholson is holding my seat at the Staples Center. Oh, wait; he wants me to clean his seat. My bad.
The NBA once was a great game, and to a lot of people it still is. Perhaps it is a generation thing. I once saw the NBA as a team game with great players. Today it is a high-priced individual’s game with affordable players.
Tomato, tomatoe; oh well.
One more thing. My good friend and Mora graduate as well as a former Ranger, Aaron Chavez, is returning to his hometown for his annual basketball camp. The camp will be held June 4-6 at the Mora High School Gymnasium. This is a fantastic camp for ages 5-14 in which the kids will be introduced to the fundamentals of basketball by some well-rounded basketball minds. The cost of the camp is $55. Each camper receives a T-shirt and a basketball. Snacks are provided by Chavez, although he will not cook, so no need to worry about that. At the conclusion of the camp, a Camper of the Week will receive a special gift. Last year’s surprise was an autographed T-shirt from Seattle Supersonics star center Robert Swift.
It is nice to see people who have gone on to do well return and do something for their community and surrounding area, and I am glad to see Aaron does this on an annual basis.
Aaron is now a junior college basketball assistant in Bakersfield, Calif., and was an assistant coach at West Las Vegas for a few seasons.
Tripp — out!
Richard Tripp is a longtime local educator who writes sports stories for the Optic. He wept with joy that day in ‘85 when the Celtics signed Bill Walton.